The craft beer craze is, of course, extending all over this town, from DTLA to the San Fernando Valley to the San Gabriel Valley. In addition to a number of breweries sprouting up around the SGV, more and more gastropubs, brewpubs and beer bars have started adding a lot of craft to their average draft list.
And while many people tend to think of Pasadena as the more happening part of the SGV, several establishments, all in their respective downtowns — from downtown Covina to downtown Claremont — provide plenty of thirst-quenching reasons to keep heading east.
5. Bread & Barley (Covina)
In addition to offering up solid California cooking, Bread & Barley is first and foremost a fantastic craft beer bar. Providing downtown Covina with beer from around the world, this bar is slowly teaching the SGV a thing or two about micro-brewed beer. This quaint little gastropub — plastered with anti-Prohibition posters and artwork — takes the phrase "no crap on tap" literally, as they refuse to sell any macro-brewed beers to their customers. Some favorites to grace the draft list here are Ladyface Ale Companie out of Agoura Hills, Noble Ale Works in Anaheim and Belgian classics such as Dupont Brewery and Brouwerij Liefmans. 130 N. Citrus Ave, Covina; (626) 339-3310.
4. Beer Belly Deli (Claremont)
We love the Eureka! and The Back Abbey in downtown Claremont, but another excellent excuse to visit the charming town for a pint is the Beer Belly Deli. Not to be confused with Beer Belly in Koreatown, this deli, tucked away in the Claremont Packing House, is one of the town's hidden gems. The walls of the deli hold up black-and-white family photos, old portraits, street signs and maps of the area from various estate and garage sales. The owners wanted to balance an historical theme alongside their 50-inch flat screens and it works. Their draft list sports a handful of domestic and imported brews, which pair wonderfully with their thick grinder sandwiches and Wednesday night trivia. For those non-beer folk, Beer Belly Deli carries jugs of homemade red and white sangria and even offers a wine bar in the corner. 590 W. 1st. St., Claremont; (909) 626-5678.
3. The Rookery Alehouse and Grill (Pomona)
Bottle shares are the best — and the most cost-effective — way to learn more about craft beer. While these small-scale BYOB events usually take place at a buddy's house, The Rookery Alehouse and Grill opens their 100-person dining space for a bottle share every month. Although there's a $10 minimum toward great beer or the good comfort food (which is about what you should pay on a dish to bring to your friend's house anyway), the house provides a number of bottles that only the owner of a craft beer bar could get their hands on. But don't think you can stroll in and drink from the owner's cellar without sharing some of your own. The whole point is to expand your beer horizons, so hit up your favorite bottle shop and join the 25-50 beer nerds who attend The Rookery's bottle shares each month. To consume alongside whatever craft brews The Rookery has on draft, the gastropub offers some jazzy fare — such as their IPA battered asparagus and their ale-braised pulled pork sandwich. 117 W. Second St., Pomona; (909) 865-4400.
2. T. Phillips Alehouse (Glendora)
The first things you'll notice at T. Phillips in downtown Glendora are probably the mounted animal heads on the walls and peanut shells on the floor — oh, and their 68 beers on tap. Although (only) 15 taps are dedicated to L.A. craft beers from places such as Alosta Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing, and Golden Road, T. Phillips is still a great place to try out the local brewing scene, as well as other craft beers from around the country. Upon arrival, you'll be asked your beer order, the size in which you'd like that beer (16 or 34 ounces), and if you want a bowl of peanuts. T. Phillips opened with all 68 taps dedicated to an even smaller handful of craft beer options. Just a few years ago, the bar could hardly give away anything called an IPA. Now, with the rise of L.A. craft brewers and the overall craft beer boom, the GM relishes in the hunt to replenish his own No Crap Taps. 180 N. Glendora Ave., Glendora; (626) 335-5898.
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1. Chase's La Verne (La Verne)
Chase's in downtown La Verne is very good at the summer BBQ aesthetic. Sitting in relaxing outdoor furniture surrounded by heirloom tomato plants and the familiar scent of grilled meats, Chase's feels like you're dining in your friend's backyard. There's actually someone grilling made-to-order dishes outside in front of Chase's patrons. Along with some pretty unique food — apricot BBQ smoked pulled pork, baked banana s'mores — the bar also provides a number of local brews for any palate. Local favorites such as an amber lager known as the Pomona Queen from Dale Bros Brewing, various beers from Claremont Craft Ales, and others welcome drinkers in for a pint in a homey setting. 2136 3rd St., La Verne; (909) 596-6810.
Cleo Tobbi also writes for OC Weekly, Beer Paper LA, and the LA Downtowner. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CleoTobbi. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.